New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents throughout New York State. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations and volunteer search and rescue groups, Forest Rangers locate and extract lost, injured or distressed people.
What follows is a report, prepared by DEC, of recent missions carried out by Forest Rangers.
Town of Newcomb
Wilderness Rescue: On September 27th at 8 pm, two hikers called 911 requesting a helicopter ride down from Allen Mountain. Forest Rangers Martin and Quinn and Assistant Forest Ranger (AFR) Jackson advised that Rangers would hike up to help the pair. The 19- and 35-year-old hikers did not have headlamps, a map, a compass, or adequate food and water. Rangers reached the hikers from Utica at 10:40 pm, and found the pair hypothermic and dehydrated. It was raining with temperatures in the 40s. Rangers provided warm clothing and food, and helped the hikers down to the trailhead. Resources were clear at 12:45 am. Allen Mountain is an approximately 20-mile round-trip hike. This was the pair’s first attempt at a high peak. Hikers are reminded to prepare before heading outdoors, including knowing their limits and gearing up for a 24-hour trip, even if the hike is not planned to be long. Learn more at DEC’s website.
Town of Wilmington
River Search: On September 29th, Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Essex County 911 reporting that a 60-year-old male fell into the Ausable River near the Flume Trail System. Local fire departments, EMS, and New York State Police responded and began the search. In the following days, State Police Dive and Aviation, K-9 units, and drone teams, as well as the Forest Ranger Swift Water Team and Wilmington and Saranac fire departments, worked to access pools and eddies by boat and utilizing rope systems to lower personnel into technical sections for underwater camera searches. The search is ongoing.
Village of Lake Placid
Wilderness Rescue: On October 1st, Ranger Evans received notification of an injured hiker on the Street Mountain and Nye Mountain Trail in the High Peaks Wilderness. The hiker had an unstable leg injury. After splinting the ankle, responding Forest Rangers coordinated a carry out with an Assistant Forest Ranger and Search and Rescue of the Northern Adirondacks to Heart Lake where the hiker was given a canoe transport to the Lake Placid Ambulance for medical transport.
Town of Keene
Wilderness Rescues: On October 2nd, two separate incidents on Cascade Mountain were reported to Ray Brook Dispatch a little over an hour apart. At approximately 11:43 am, the caller reported a male hiker with a knee injury. Ranger Evans went to meet the injured hiker, but after splinting the injured knee, the hiker was unable to walk. At approximately 1 pm, Ray Brook Dispatch received a report from Essex County 911 of a subject that had fallen 80 feet from a cliff on Cascade. State Police Aviation assistance was requested to help evacuate the potentially injured hiker. Rangers boarded a State Police Helicopter and were inserted near the injured, but conscious, subject. The hiker was packaged and loaded into a litter, hoisted into the helicopter, and flown to a trauma center in Vermont. When that mission was complete, the helicopter was utilized to safely evacuate the subject with the injured knee. A long, labor-intensive carry out involving several Rangers was avoided, and the injured hiker was safely extracted to the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake.
These back-to-back incidents are just two of many instances of the strong partnership between DEC’s Division of Forest Protection Forest Rangers and the New York State Police Aviation Unit. Almost weekly, Forest Rangers join forces with State Police to search for lost or missing persons or rescue injured people in the backcountry. When someone is injured in the backcountry, getting the subject to a hospital can be an arduous task. Many backcountry trails are not passable by 4×4 vehicles or ATVs, leaving rescuers to carry those unable to walk out of the woods. In some instances, as many as 20 Forest Rangers are needed to evacuate an injured person 10 miles over rough terrain. If weather conditions allow in a suitable location, for nearly two decades State Police helicopter crews working with specially trained Forest Rangers have been undertaking some of DEC’s most difficult rescue and recovery missions.
Read past Forest Ranger search and rescue reports here.
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